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on 5 December 2002
I cannot believe how many times I laughed out loud when I was reading this book. It is a very funny, clever book. Jimmy Conway rediscovers the expections he had of life when he was 15. At 35 it hasn't really turned out like he had expected and once again he lets his teenage self take over and go all out in pursuit of his earlier goals i.e. fame. If the idea sounds tempting to you then you better read this book and find out what happens when Jimmy Conway does just that. I have to say that the book got mildly annoying towards the end, but I guess the character is meant to be annoying. Still I it worthwhile to keep reading because you will never guess the great twist towards the end. I really recommend this book for anyone who is wondering when they got a normal boring life and what happened to their high flying plans and goals or for anyone just after a good laugh.
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on 11 February 2003
Journalist John O'Farrell's second book of fiction is a tour de force about fame, celebrity and the tacky, flimsy world of showbiz! The central character, Jimmy Conway, blends into the background, drinks in the same pub with the same friends and seems as normal as instant coffee. But lurking in his past is a dire secret; Jimmy has always yearned for stardom and even wrote letters as a teenager to his future self with advice on how to handle it. After accidentally meeting Billy Scrivens - a more Dickensian name you could not find in modern fiction - and consequently being interviewed for television on the event of Scrivens' death Jimmy is launched on a crazily out of control ascent to the peak of stardom. For Billy Scrivens is (was) Britain's favourite TV personality and Jimmy builds on his tenuous friendship with the deceased to convince the populace that he is in fact Scrivens' successor and the brightest unknown stand up comedian for years.
The truth will out and when it does it is in the most unpredictable and sharply observed form possible. O' Farrell's wit and biting satire strip the celebrities and their status of all dignity, revealing them as sordid, shallow back stabbers. This Is Your Life is probably the funniest British book I have read since Jonathan Coe's hilarious What A Carve Up and is destined, like Coe's, to be read time and time again. A comic masterpiece!
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on 3 December 2002
I have also read "The Best a Man Can Get" and though that was great, this book exceeds it in so many ways. It is about time the shallow world of celebrity was covered in this very entertaining way. I found myself laughing out load on the bus, train or wherever I was at the genius of O'Farrell's observational humour - a genre sometimes thought of as being old-hat. It is easy to identify with the lead character as so many 30-somethings are written off as being safe and married, this acknowledges how at that age you you still have ambitions and aspirations which are not too different to when you were a teenager. The flashbacks via adolescent letters to the older self and the mix of real and made up celebrities works well and I can definitely see this as a TV mini series or a movie. That is, if the producers would dare make a film which ultimately shows their own industry for what is really is. Well worth the read, it is a long time since I have been so absorbed in a book (that is, apart from "The Best a Man can Get") !!
Buy this Book!!!!! I dare you to be disappointed!
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on 9 June 2003
I read O'Farrell's first book "The Best a Man Can Get" in pretty much one sitting. It was witty and dry and I was hoping for more of the same. Unfortunately, this one never quite lives up to the expectations.
Jimmy Conway spent his school days fantasising about how he would behave when he became famous. On reaching the age of 35 none of his fantasies have managed to come true. Yet somehow, following the death of a national celebrity and some fairly far-fetched coincidences, he blags his way into becoming a celebrity - without ever having to perform.
The book explores some serious issues - the effects of celebrity and how we see our friends - but mostly manages to do so in a light-hearted way. It is witty and the characters are charming.
It's not quite as good as O'Farrell's first fiction work, but I bought it on a Saturday and finished it the following Monday evening, which for me is quite good going. It's not that I couldn't put it down, it's just that every time I did, quite soon after, I wanted to pick it up again!
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on 23 June 2005
I read this after finishing The Best A Man Can Get hoping it would be as witty and laugh-out-loud funny. I wasn't disappointed.
John O'Farrell has a hilarious way with words that has you smiling at every page turn.
Feel you've missed out on fame? Read this book and you'll be glad you have!
Highly recommend it.
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on 29 November 2002
I don't think I have ever laughed out loud as much reading a book as I did reading this. I love the premise of the book about rediscovering the expectations you had of life before reality set in. To find in your thirties that your actual life doesn't come up to scratch with the one you imagined as a teenager and decide to make do something about it makes for great reading (because it is not something you would do, or even want to do. I know I don't want to marry Michael Jackson any more)
I must admit that towards the end the main character did start to get on my nerves but I think that was the point, the pursuit of fame is annoying. The suspense leading up to his big performance was tense and the outcome was quite a surprise! This a refreshingly funny book whith lots really funny moments and characters. I recommend it to anyone who would like to find out what would happen with their lives if the teenager within took over.
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on 28 July 2016
Purchased this as I loved another of this authors titles, so it was good to only pay a second hand price for it as I read it then give it to a charity shop. Didn't set out to get large print but actually I liked it, the ease of reading a larger print was good
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on 13 June 2014
Not as good as some of his other books. Initially I was very disappointed but I stuck with the book as I have enjoyed his others so much. It did get better and it was a clever take on the idea of celebrity. If I had read this before some of his other books I would probably not have bothered reading any others based on this book alone.
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on 28 December 2014
I really enjoyed this book. Very funny, with some serious elements about fame and celebrities.
This is my third book by John O'Farrell, after "The best a man can get" and "The man who forgot his wife".
Plot-wise, I think, it's the strongest of the three, in the sense that the plot is on a consistently high level with no weaker parts.

If one really wanted, one could find weaknesses, but which book doesn't have any?

The minor characters (Jimmy's friends) could, for example, be a bit better developed.

And probably not all readers enjoy a writing style resembling the style of a stand-up comic.

In all the three 0'Farrell novels I've read so far, the author, as is his right, chose to write about very special, unlikely people or situations. I wonder how much fun he could make with "normal" people.
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on 31 July 2004
...I want to see Simon Pegg in the lead!
A friend gave me this book and predicted, that I have read it within two days. Well, he was absolutly right. I really could have read it in 48 hours, but I streched it a little bit 'cause this is one of the rare books you simply don't want to end.
Buy it right now and have a balll!!
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